April 18, 2008

Rush: AP Doesn’t Identify Who Promises to Raise Taxes, Trade Barriers

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:23 pm

Today, talk-show heavyweight Rush Limbaugh picked up on a curious oversight by an AP business reporter whose negative spin in supposedly objective stories on the economy has frequently been noted here.

In a Friday story about a survey of top financial company executives, the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger wrote the following (bold is mine):

Turmoil in credit and housing markets will be the most significant threat to growth this year, according to a survey of top financial company executives released Friday.

These executives believe there is a high probability — 88 percent — that the country will suffer a recession in the next 12 months.

The responses came from executives whose firms are members of the Financial Services Forum, which represents 20 of the largest financial companies in the country including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Allstate Insurance and Fidelity Investments.

After credit market tumult and troubles in the housing market, the executives listed the next biggest threats to the economy now as the possibility the government will impose higher taxes or raise protectionist barriers to foreign competition.

It is fairly typical for AP’s business reporters to comment on where the president, his critics, or the current crop of presidential aspirants stand on a particular identified issue. But Crutsinger was curiously silent in this particular story about where the threat of higher taxes and trade barriers financial executives are worried about is coming from.

Limbaugh did the work Crutsinger wouldn’t do (links at Rush’s site go behind a subscription wall after a week):

What party is out there promising to raise taxes? Doesn’t matter. Both Hillary and Obama are promising to raise taxes, and when you listen to Obama tell us why, it’s not about raising revenue. The whole purpose of the tax code is to raise revenue, to fund government services, blah, blah, blah. We all know this. But not with Obama. To him, the tax code is to be used as punishment. It’s to try to perfect everybody, make everybody equal, it’s to punish people who, in Obama’s view, have enough. And the same thing with Mrs. Clinton, who’s out there saying she wants to take Big Oil’s profits and pour them into research on alternative fuels.

So the way I would write this story, “After credit market tumult and troubles in the housing market, the executives listed the next biggest threats to the economy now as the possibility that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton will be elected president,” because they’re the ones who are talking about imposing higher taxes and raising protectionist barriers to foreign competition, i.e., NAFTA, and not passing the Colombia free trade agreement.

Rush also could have mentioned the fact that the execs would be specifically worried about the expiration of the current tax regime that resulted from the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.

A 2006 Heritage Foundation report noted that after six years (2003-2008) under the current tax system, expiration of changes made in 2001 and 2003 would cause tax increases to kick in as early as 2009, specifically:

  • Tax rates will rise substantially in each tax bracket, some by 450 basis points;
  • Low-income taxpayers will see the 10-percent tax bracket disappear, and they will have to pay taxes at the 15-percent rate;
  • Married taxpayers will see the marriage penalty return;
  • Taxpayers with children will lose 50 percent of their child tax credits;
  • Taxes on dividends will increase beginning on January 1, 2009;
  • Taxes on capital gains will increase, also beginning on January 1, 2009; and
  • Federal death taxes will come back to life in 2011, after fading down to nothing in 2010.

The Heritage study also pointed to significant economic growth and job growth that would result if these tax increases were prevented from taking effect.

Crutsinger, as Limbaugh noted, could easily have told us which presidential candidates favor imposing these taxes, and which do not. But the AP reporter didn’t go there. I wonder why not?

Cross-posted in slightly revised form at NewsBusters.org.

Obama’s Ongoing Nightmare: Wright’s Rants, Church Bulletin Bombshells, and More

Barack Obama tried to slip one past the George Stephanopoulos at Wednesday night’s Democratic debate in Philadelphia, which may go down in history as the Night of the Mutual Meltdown.

Obama’s gambit concerned the now-infamous Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, the said-to-be-retired Senior Pastor at the Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC) on Chicago’s South Side. This is the preacher whom Obama has described as his 20-year mentor and guide. Wright conducted Obama’s marriage to Michelle Robinson in 1992, and baptized the couple’s two daughters, Malia Ann and Natasha. Obama credits Wright for the title of his book, “The Audacity of Hope.”

Let’s go to the transcript to see the stunt Mr. Obama tried to pull:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator, two questions. Number one, do you think Reverend Wright loves America as much as you do? And, number two, if you get the nomination, what will you do when those sermons are played on television again and again and again?

OBAMA: ….. And, you know, the notion that somehow that the American people are going to be distracted once again by comments not made by me, but somebody who is associated with me that I have disowned, I think doesn’t give the American people enough credit.

It was clever. If it slid by, his campaign could have tried to claim needed distance. A generally sympathetic Mainstream Media would likely have provided him cover.

Unfortunately for Obama, the ABC anchor was paying close attention:

STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve disowned him?

OBAMA: The comments, comments that I’ve disowned. ….

Oops. Just “the comments.”

As much grief as his 20-year pastor and mentor has brought to Obama and his campaign, who can blame him for the attempt? The Reverend Wright controversy, and others that have sprung forth as a result of it, have transformed his campaign, and threaten to sink it. A better opponent than Hillary Clinton might have finished him off by now.

* * * * *

In early March, Barack Obama seemed to be on top of the world. His pledged delegate lead was (and still is) substantial. Yes, it was clear, even then, that he would not garner a delegate majority from pledged delegates won in the primary elections and caucuses, and that he would need the votes of of a significant plurality of Democratic superdelegates to gain the Democratic presidential nomination. But his charisma-based “hope” and “change” campaign seemed to be on cruise control and gaining more momentum with each passing day. His general-election polling lead against John McCain was substantial, even double digits in some cases. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton was facing calls to withdraw.

Then, on March 4, Obama lost big-state primaries in both Texas and Ohio. After several previous weeks of blowout wins in about a dozen states, the Texas loss was a surprise. The 10-point margin of defeat in Ohio was a shock. The aura of invincibility began to fade.

Then on March 13, ABC investigative reporters Brian Ross and Rehab al-Buri posted and produced “Obama’s Pastor: God Damn America, U.S. to Blame for 9/11.” The report’s 700 printed words and 200 seconds of footage instantly and radically altered the political landscape. All of a sudden, Barack Obama became joined at the hip with a racist, backward-looking, terrorist-sympathetic man who clearly disdains his country.

The Obama campaign sensed serious and permanent damage, and moved quickly. Only five days later, the candidate delivered “The Speech” (“A More Perfect Union”). It was supposed to change the subject from Wright and TUCC to race relations in general. Even though he didn’t do much to create space between himself and Wright (” I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother”), Obama’s performance received generally fawning and adulatory Mainstream Media reviews. The situation seemed to have stabilized.

Except for two things: That darned Wright wouldn’t go away, and, perhaps more important, Trinity’s church bulletins entered the fray.

* * * * *

Reverend Wright, for all of his radicalism, was, and still is, an effective communicator, the kind who you can see leveraging his message though as many communication outlets as possible. That is indeed the case. The ABC report mentions videos that TUCC has for sale. Barack Obama has mentioned listening to audio tapes. The weekly Trinity Church bulletin is yet another message-communicating outlet.

Bulletins at many churches are 2-4 page productions that provide only basic information about service schedules, group activities, prayer intentions, and the like. That is not at all the case at TUCC, whose bulletins are usually 30-plus page extravaganzas.

Almost every week, at least two bulletin pages are devoted to “Pastor’s Pages,” where Wright and his pastoral assistants hold forth on various topics.

The Pastor’s Pages, collectively, are a window into the radical Black Liberation Theology that undergirds TUCC. I have downloaded about 100 of TUCC’s bulletins published between December 2004 and March 2008, representing over half of what was published during that period. Combined with Wright’s apparent unwillingness to disappear, the content of these bulletins has served to deepen the controversy surrounding him, primarily by making Obama’s claims to be ignorant of Wright’s radicalism not credible.

What have we learned from the bulletins thus far? Quite a bit:

  • (Originally reported at BizzyBlog on March 17) Two pages in the July 22, 2007 bulletin (pictured here) were given over to reprinting an op-ed column that originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times by Hamas political director Mousa Abu Marzook. Yes, Wright gave two pages in a church bulletin to a terrorist.
  • (Originally reported at BizzyBlog on March 17) In an introduction to an article on “Progressive Muslims” by an Omid Safi, Wright wrote this:

    WrightOnProgrMuslims070807

    Clearly, Wright does not take the War on Terror or Israel’s right to exist seriously.

  • (Originally reported by Sweetness & Light on March 24) Only days after Obama condemned the bulletin’s devotion of space to Hamas in an e-mail to a relatively small Israeli publication, a new hot potato landed in Obama’s lap. TUCC’s June 10, 2007 bulletin gave space to an Ali Baghdadi, who made this ludicrous claim (Baghdadi’s full article is at graphics here and here):

    TUCCbulletin061007ethnicBomb

  • (Originally reported at BizzyBlog on April 15) This past Saturday, Wright delivered a eulogy at TUCC for a local judge. The eulogy included an assertion that Thomas Jefferson “had babies by a 15 year-old slave girl. (I) think the judges call that pedophilia” — a statement that almost all media outlets except Fox News ignored. It turns out that Wright also made that claim, as if it is an undisputed fact, in the November 6, 2005 bulletin (relevant pages pictured here). In that same bulletin, he also called Jefferson a rapist, and claimed, again acting as if there is no dispute, that George Washington fathered a slave’s child.

* * * * *

The net result of the initial Wright controversy, Wright’s continued visibility, and the drip-drip revelations of church bulletin contents, is that the Illinois Senator is no longer Barack the Inevitable. His general-election polling lead over John McCain has virtually vanished. In Wednesday night’s debate, Mrs. Clinton was so emboldened by Obama’s growing vulnerability that she actually brought up the bulletin containing the Hamas op-ed herself in front of the largest TV debate audience in the 2007-2008 campaign.

The important point to remember in all of this is that Barack Obama has not only failed to disown Wright, he has pledged to continue to attend TUCC — even though Wright’s successor is not expected to be significantly different. Because of these decisions, Obama can’t walk away from what has been discovered, or what will be. In fact, he has taken ownership of all of it, whether he likes it or not. All the “clever” ploys against the likes George Stephanopoulos and others won’t change that.

And there’s more on the way. Finally, the press is asking about unrepentant 1960s radical and Obama supporter Bill Ayers. There will surely be further scrutiny of Obama’s involvement with Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March. And this post hasn’t even gotten around to Tony Rezko, a questionable relationship that the Washington Post narrowly brought up in 2006 but which escaped meaningful media coverage until the indicted Rezko’s trial began.

Oh, and here’s one more piece of news for Barack Obama that should brighten his weekend: Powerline reports that he just won the coveted Hamas endorsement.

Light Posting/Non-Posting Alert

Filed under: General — Tom @ 7:51 am

A civic duty calls that may take up only a small part of the day, or the whole day.

UPDATE, 11:00 a.m.: It was jury duty. Many were called, and few were chosen. I was not among the chosen.

However, because of work on a longer assignment and some personal commitments, the potential post stack is shorter than normal. So there might not be a lot of new stuff until later in the day or in the evening.

Positivity: What happened outdoors helped save a life indoors

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Jackson, Wisconsin:

Snow sent runners inside, and they aided man whose heart stopped

Posted: April 13, 2008

There’s an official “chain of survival” for victims of cardiac arrest. Only Gary Jenovai can rightfully count a Good Friday snowstorm as the master link.

The 11.5 inches of snow that fell March 21 likely saved the 61-year-old’s life by driving him inside the Pettit Center for a run the next morning. There, he was fortuitously close to a group of trained lifesavers and within a few hundred feet of a defibrillator used to shock his heart back to a life-sustaining beat.

It’s no wonder the staff at Wisconsin Heart Hospital, where he spent nearly two weeks recovering, dubbed him “miracle boy.”

More important, Jenovai is still around to be called Grandpa Gary.

“I call it a miracle,” his wife, Carol, said Friday from their home in Jackson. “Just everything that came together that made it possible for him to survive.”

Jenovai said he remembered little about his flirtation with death – just that he set his winter coat on the bleachers along the running track inside the Pettit Center, and that he started out to run 3 miles around the oval.

He dropped before finishing the first lap.

Doctors later found that two arteries in his heart were roughly 75% blocked. The impaired blood flow had sent him into cardiac arrest.

Midway through his own run, Dana Schulz, 32, spotted Jenovai and a small group of bystanders just off the southeast corner of the track.

“His face was beet-purple, eyes were open, his pupils were pinpoints,” Schulz said. “When you see a gentleman’s eyes that are open and he’s not responding to anything, you kind of get an eerie feeling knowing that something is really not going right.”

Steve Gamm, another runner turned rescuer, noted a similarly dire appearance.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘This guy’s gone,’ ” said Gamm, 56.

Without hesitation, Schulz and Gamm put into practice the cardiopulmonary resuscitation training they had received years ago, Schulz as a group-home director and Gamm as a Milwaukee County lifeguard.

Schulz provided the chest compressions and Gamm breathed into Jenovai’s mouth for two, three, likely four minutes.

As they worked, Paul Golomski raced to retrieve the automatic external defibrillator that the Pettit Center had purchased with donated money just a year ago. It had never been used.

Golomski handed the defibrillator to Norah Johnson, a nurse at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.

Once the pads were attached to Jenovai’s chest, the machine reported that he had no heartbeat.

“So the defibrillator told us to stand by and to push the shock button, and we pushed the shock button,” Schulz said.

Jenovai’s heart began beating.

Paramedics from the West Allis Fire Department arrived moments later, roughly six minutes after they received an emergency call at 9:24 a.m., according to Assistant Chief Steve Bane, the director of emergency medical operations.

Bane said the actions of Gamm, Johnson, Schulz and Golomski in those six minutes saved Jenovai’s life. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.